Two female MFL MarMac School Juniors, Monona, Iowa, will journey to Germany this summer for their first adventure outside of the United States.
Kayla Koether, 17, and Chelsea Sloan, 17, both of McGregor, will be traveling to Germany this summer as ex-change students.
Kayla, who is set to depart on June 19, will stay for four weeks with a German family in the South Eastern State of Bavaria. She is currently deciding on how she will travel to New Jersey, where her flight will leave from, and where her scholarship kicks in. She will have a layover in Frankfurt before she goes on to Nuremberg.
Chelsea departs on July 16, so the girls are glad that they will have one day where Kayla can relay her experiences to Chelsea before she leaves. Chelsea will fly from Washington DC, where she plans to spend three days before departing from America. She will then fly to Frankfurt for a stop-over, where she meets with her temporary host family, she will then travel to Hamburg; Chelsea will be in Germany for a year.
Both Kayla and Chelsea are very excited about the trip and explained why they are drawn to Germany and the German language.
“It is the culture and my personal history that draws me to Germany,” Kayla said. “My relatives on my father’s side, the Koether’s, were brewmeisters (brewery owners). My great grand father was from the town of Alfdorf near Stuttgart,” she added.
Chelsea also has strong routes that tie her to a German ancestry – and interestingly to the very same town that the Koether’s came from. Good friends, Chelsea and Kayla, may also have been good friends, had their families remained in the fatherland.
“My great grandparents, on my mother’s side, also came from a town near Stuttgart,” Chelsea said.
Chelsea’s mother was also a student of the German language and she traveled to Germany with the same teacher, Mary Chapell, that teaches the girls German studies today. The girls claim that Chapel arranged their ex-change student venture.
The girls are very grateful to Chapell for all she has done for them. According to the girls Chapell has won various awards, from the Iowa Association of Teachers of German, because her students had high achievements on the National German Language Test.
“Mrs. Chapell always finds extra things that go above and beyond – whether it be German breakfast, cooking German food or German movies, she always finds different cultural abstract things for us to be interested in,” Kayla said. “She has been the back bone for our whole German experience, to push us to try for scholarships and pursue other opportunities in German studies. We feel lucky we have been lucky to have two great instructors, Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Chapell,” Kayla added.
The girls are not all heads in books though, they are both talented musicians. Chelsea plays the piano and French horn; she played the piano since she was 11 years old and she plays the French horn in the High School band.
Kayla is already getting a name for herself as a talented musician and writer, she is no novice to the spot light; She is the guitarist in the local all girl band, ‘Cream Soda.’ Kayla loves country music’s Willie Nelson and Chelsea loves anything that gets her dancing.
Both Kayla and Chelsea are of the frame of mind that marriage can wait, but Kayla added that one day she would like to have lots of children and either become a politician or a rancher. Chelsea would like to become a doctor, but she emphasized that she just wants to help people. Kayla said that she would also like to help people.
“I’d also like to help people, I am really interested in social changes, so my real aspirations are probably to be a politician or a rancher,” Kayla said.
The girls not only wonder what Germany will be like, they also wonder how they as Americans will be treated.
“Another interesting thing will be to see how people view us as Americans,” Chelsea said.
“It seems to me that here we take a lot of things for granted – we think everyone shares our belief,” Kayla explained.
Cream Soda will be performing at Sabor Latino restaurant in Decorah, June 9, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., just one week before Kayla leaves for Germany.
The host family that Kayla will be living with is also in a band, ‘MizzFizz,’ they sing in English, in the style of Rae Charles, and their music can be heard via their web page: www.mizzfizz.de. Astrid and Mark Lierenfeld have two children, Sophia 17, and Marcello 9, so Kayla will have someone her age in the home.
No doubt the girls will have lots of stories to tell upon their return. While Kayla will be taking some classes at a German high school in the four weeks that she will be gone, Chelsea will be enrolled in Lise-Meitner-Gymnasium high school in Crailsheim for the year. Chelsea will be staying temporarily with Petra and Axel Reichert and their daughter Kim. Axel is a bookseller and Petra is a psychologist.
Chelsea’s permanent host family will be Gudrun and Friedrich Kettemann. Gudrun is a pedagogue, (teacher) and Friedrich is a dentist. They have one daughter, Johanna, 17, and two sons, Felix, 17, and Carlo, 7.